Scum who scam elders and how we can fight them

Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist – New York Times got my attention as someone who volunteers once a month for TeleCare to call the elderly to make sure they are ok. It’s a report on the criminal scum who prey on the vulnerable and the commercial entities that profit from helping them:

    Richard Guthrie, a 92-year-old Army veteran, was one of those victims. He ended up on scam artists’ lists because his name, like millions of others, was sold by large companies to telemarketing criminals, who then turned to major banks to steal his life’s savings. Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

What can we do about this situation? At the very least, we can learn to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the many around us about to avoid being scammed. Some links that seem to be helpful in this area come from various government agencies:

The AARP naturally has a page concerning how to avoid various types of fraud as a retired person. I would guess this info is useful for people of all ages.

The fact that infoUSA is a publicly traded company made me wonder how to easily figure out the reputation that any given corporate entity has. I know that you can look up basic financial info on sites like Yahoo! Finances (e.g., IUSA), which cover headline news. I have to do further research on this topic. For instance, do any of the “socially responsible” investment funds rate various companies and present that info in a publicly accessible form?

I will say that what I’m writing here is based trusting the New York Times. As a simple start, I can also do a search on Google News to see whether this coverage is vouched for by other news sources: infousa – Google News or Yahoo! News Search Results for infousa. I don’t see a lot of other coverage of this topic yet; I am curious as to how infoUSA will respond.

Who is to blame for the tainted spinach?

I have to thank Leafy Green Sewage – New York Times for getting me to ponder whether someone other than spinach farmers are at fault for the unedible spinach:

    California’s spinach industry is now the financial
    victim of an outbreak it probably did not cause, and meanwhile,
    thousands of acres of other produce are still downstream from these
    lakes of E. coli-ridden cattle manure. So give the spinach growers a
    break, and direct your attention to the people in our agricultural
    community who just might be able to solve this deadly problem: the beef
    and dairy farmers.

Another article (A Stopgap for the Spinach Lover) answers a question that I’ve been wondering about — can’t we just cook our spinach?:

    The Food and Drug Administration has advised
    people not to eat any fresh spinach at all, not even cooked, although
    sufficient cooking (160 degrees for 15 seconds) kills E. coli O157:H7,
    the bacterium that has sickened scores of people around the country,
    including at least 18 who are critically ill, and killed at least one.
    The agency is concerned that even if the spinach is cooked, bacteria
    may have been left behind on a countertop or a knife, which could then
    contaminate another food being served raw.

At any rate, I worry about the future of salads of uncooked vegetables
in general. What’s to stop other vegetables from being tainted in the
same way?